Biafra: Southeast leaders disown IPOB, MASSOB, others

Southeast leaders on Saturday rose in unison to warn the prime agitators for Biafra Republic that they were on their own in their quest to balkanize Nigeria.

The Igbo leaders disowned the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other pro-Biafra groups, saying the generality of the people of the geo-political zone prefer to remain in Nigeria.

They reaffirmed their commitment to one united Nigeria guided by justice, equality of rights, fairness, love and respect for one another.

But IPOB and MASSOB told the Igbo leaders who had met in Enugu that their support was immaterial in the campaign for Biafra.

The Igbo leaders, among whom were present and past governors, ministers, National Assembly members, other members of the political class, religious leaders and traditional rulers from the zone, condemned the resort to violence by the secession agitators.

They said: “We do not support them. They do not speak for Southeast.”

Reading from a communique at the end of the four-hour meeting held in Enugu, Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, said the meeting set up a committee to engage the agitators to stop and allow the elders of the Southeast to address their fears.

Similar committees were set up on  “Agitation; engagement with other regions; those of our people in the North, South East, South-South and South West; IPOB, MASSOB, Youths and Market people, Okada and Keke; Diaspora; Advocacy; and Diplomatic engagement with Foreign Missions.”

Umahi, who doubles as chairman of the Southeast Governors Forum, also assured the non-Igbo living in the Southeast of their security and protection.

The meeting mandated Southeast governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo to liaise with Northerners and other Nigerians living in the Southeast to come out openly to assure their people and Nigerians that they are safe and well protected while living in the area.

Umahi said the meeting was a follow up to the one between a presidential delegation led by Defence Minister Bashir Magashi and Igbo leaders on June 11, 2021, on the security challenges confronting the region in particular and Nigeria in general.

The meeting, he added, was to enable the leaders articulate their position to enable them not only engage the presidential team but to also engage their people on all burning issues.

The communiqué reads in part: “We the Southeast leaders condemn in totality the violent secessionist agitations in the Southeast. We firmly proclaim that we do not support them. They do not speak for Southeast.

“The impression that Southeast leaders are silent over the agitations of our youths for secession is not correct.

“Southeast governors, Ohanaeze Ndigbo president and our National Assembly members, our ministers and our leadership from Southeast, notable leaders from Southeast had come out publicly many times in the past to speak against such agitations.

“In order not to mismanage the unfortunate situation we found ourselves, Southeast leaders have set up a committee to engage such youths to stop and allow the elders of Southeast to address their fears.

“Meeting directed our governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo to liaise with indigenes from Northern part of Nigeria and other indigenes of other regions that are living in the Southeast to come out openly to assure their people and Nigerians that they are very safe and well protected while living in the Southeast.

“The meeting also set up a committee under Ohanaeze to articulate and address all burning issues to further meet amongst ourselves and further meet with the presidential team.

“We the Igbo reaffirm commitment to one united Nigeria under the platform of justice, equality of rights, fairness, love and respect for one another.”

The communiqué also noted the threats by some groups in some other regions against the people of Southeast even as the leaders firmly promised to protect everyone either from the Southeast or anywhere living in the Southeast.

“We plead with the leaders of other regions to please note the threats against our people and protect them.

“We condemn the killing of security agents, burning of security infrastructure and killing of civilians in Southeast and even other regions. We request the security agencies to discharge their duties within the rules of engagement under the rule of law.”

The communiqué endorsed the Southeast joint security outfit, Ebube Agu, and asked all the personnel of Ebube Agu to work with security agencies and respect the rights and privileges of all those living in the Southeast and her visitors.

The communiqué also requested National Assembly members from the Southeast to support state police creation in the ongoing Constitutional amendment.

It commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State for taking the pains of hosting them at all times without complaining.

The meeting also had in attendance Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State while Governor Hope Uzodimma and his Anambra State counterpart, Chief Willie Obiano, were represented by their deputies, Prof. Placid Njoku and Nkem Okeke respectively.

Other leaders present were former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Senate Minority leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; former governor of Ebonyi State, Senator Sam Egwu; former Governor of Imo State, Dr. Ikedi Ohakim, former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo and president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor and his predecessor, Chief Nnia Nwodo.

Others were Labour and Productivity Minister Chris Ngige; Minister of State for Mines and Steel, Uche Ogah; former secretary to the government of the federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; elder statesman, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma and Bishop Callistus Onaga of Enugu Anglican and Catholic Dioceses; Southeast CAN Chairman, Bishop Emmanuel Ede and Former INEC chairman, Maurice Iwu.

The rest included Allison Madueke, Mark Wabara, Senators Julius Ucha and Obinna Ogba as well as traditional rulers.

-The Nation

About Delia Innoma

Delia Innoma is a prolific writer, promoter, artist manager with full professional proficiency in English, German and Igbo languages. She studied accounting and computer programming at the Institute of Management and Technology Enugu and Germany respectively. Delia is also a devoted mother of two and she founded the Diamond Celebrities Magazine. Her sense of responsibility and commitment to the Christian faith are essential forces driving her daily activities.

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